Have you ever wondered if cats go through menopause the same way as humans do? And if they do, at what age? To understand how feline heat cycles work and how they compare to human fertility, you must first understand that because cats do not experience menstruation in the same sense as women, menopause is a questionable point. While cats have a “heat cycle,” also known as “estrus,” similar to humans’ menstrual cycle, very little, if any, blood is ever-present.
Females can start their heat cycles at a very young age and are destined to continue these heat cycles for life. So, no, cats do not have menopause. Non-mating cats can get into heat every two to three weeks during the breeding season. According to several other sources, the oldest cat to give birth was Kitty, a cat who gave birth to two kittens at the age of thirty.
Some of the signs that your cat shows when it is in heat are very obvious. She can vocalize loudly, and if you don’t have uncastrated male cats around the house, she can meow while standing at the door or looking out the window. Why? Because they have an urgent desire to mate and there will be eager and capable males who wait nearby.
You can often say that your cat is in heat according to certain forms of body language. It can spray vertical surfaces inside the house – the entrance door is preferred for this activity. As she heads toward the door with her tail raised, which is also her position during mating, she will eliminate a very strong-smelling urine stream, the fragrance being easily recognizable.
The cat will also show very affectionate behavior. It can roll a lot on the floor and lick its genitals constantly. Please note: licking the genitals is also one of the symptoms of urinary tract disease, a condition that, if ignored, can become very serious, very quickly. Of course, heat cycles will temporarily stop if the cat remains pregnant. Unless your cat is mating or sterilized, this pattern of symptoms will continue into old age.
The average number of kittens in a single litter is four. However, this can vary greatly both from pregnancy to pregnancy and from cat to cat. There is not a finite number of kittens that a cat can have throughout life, as it will depend on a number of variables:
It depends on whether the cat is left outdoors or mated with a male at home. Obviously, the opportunity for mating is equivalent to fertilization. Cats also have induced ovulations, meaning they don’t release eggs until stimulated by a male cat, another factor that will influence a cat’s productivity.
A healthy cat will generally have numerous litters with healthier kittens.
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The normal term for feline pregnancy is on average sixty to sixty-five days. I usually use sixty-three, because it is nine weeks, equivalent to the average human pregnancy of nine months. Again, the mother’s age, as well as her overall health, will greatly contribute to her gestation.
Using these factors, all other aspects being equal, and other data, you can estimate that a cat could have about twenty-five kittens over a one-year period. However, not all things are necessarily equal when using theoretical mathematics.
Based on this estimate and the fact that a reasonable number of cats live up to fifteen years or more, a 12-year-old cat could have given birth to 300 kittens by that time. According to Guinness World Records, a Texas cat named Dusty, who produced 420 kittens, gave birth to her last kitten in 1952. However, this is a very large number and most cats are inclined to have fewer kittens as they age, so this number could be significantly reduced.
Given the information presented here, it is important to consider the sterilization of your cats vigorously. No matter how good the health of an aging cat may seem, continuous birth can decrease its strength and leave it debilitated. Another aspect is the huge problem of the overpopulation of cats. Shelters full of kittens have no room for older homeless cats, which will probably be euthanized.